• When Taylor Swift wears a brand's clothing, the seller can see a surge in interest from fans.
  • A fashion reporter said Swift's mixing of designer and affordable items boosted her relatability.
  • Swift's fashion choices provide a boom but also pose challenges for small businesses.

A few months ago I was on Instagram getting ready to buy a dress.

That's a not-infrequent occurrence for many shoppers — but this dress was special: Taylor Swift had just worn it, and the exact brand was shared on Instagram.

It was a $75 velvet mini skater dress from Little Lies, a small business in Scotland. I could afford that, unlike many of the higher-end designer pieces she wears, so I pressed purchase.

On the other side of the ocean, Little Lies' cofounder Jade Robertson had received my order — and her phone wouldn't stop ringing. She had woken up to messages from a product-team member whose brother is a huge Swiftie. He'd been doing his morning scroll of X when he spotted the dress on the pop star.

"My first thought was, shit, have we accidentally copied a brand that we didn't know about? Because obviously the dress looked like mine, but I was like, it can't be mine," Robertson told Business Insider. But her team was able to trace an order that had gone to New York City and realized that it had, in fact, been welcomed by Swift. That was a shock to Robertson and her team.

The green dress Swift wore. Foto: Courtesy of Little Lies

"It wasn't as though we'd gifted it to a stylist or gifted it to her. It was just that it was an order," Robertson said. "And here she was out with Blake Lively for dinner in one of our dresses."

Little Lies, a boutique turned brand launched in 2015, was experiencing the Swift bump. Swift's wearing one of your pieces is more than just a celebrity cameo — it's a bona fide business boom. It can be a huge opportunity for businesses, but it also needs to be navigated carefully. An influx of orders can be a double-edged sword for some businesses as they wrestle with how much more inventory and staff they need to add to accommodate the surge.

When Swift wore the Little Lies dress, the business hit its month's sales target in a day.

Why fans want to wear what Taylor Swift wears — and what happens when the orders start rolling in

For as long as there have been celebrities, people have been trying to dress like them. While dressing like certain famous people may be more aspirational — not everyone can afford custom couture — Swift's marketing prowess extends to the clothes she wears.

Sarah Chapelle, a fashion reporter who created the fashion blog and Instagram account Taylor Swift Style, described one of Swift's style pillars as mixing "high low" pieces, or wearing designer items alongside pieces from more-accessible retailers.

"This kind of approach really underlines her approachable, relatable image," Chapelle said.

Chappelle said she thinks this style is what Swift gravitates toward. It has the added bonus of "creating an entry point for her fans to further be able to relate to her and to buy into a piece of her — to really foster that fan connection relationship of being able to emulate something that she likes aesthetically and having a piece of that in your own real life," she said.

Reps for Swift didn't return a request for comment from Business Insider.

For brands like Little Lies, a surprise Swift appearance is a test of resources. Robertson said her business had to stop preorders of the velvet dress after 48 hours. If orders had continued, the business could have sold triple or quadruple what it did — but if all that stock came in and people returned it, that could have put Little Lies out of business, she said.

"Overnight success is actually a challenge, and it's something that's very difficult to navigate," Robertson said, adding that halting the preorders meant the business didn't have to hire more people or bring on other manufacturers.

Little Lies, unlike other affordable brands Swift frequently wears, offers more-extended sizing. Robertson said that got the business a lot of love and more customers who were able to actually wear its clothes.

Kat Cacho has been working on her side hustle, selling vintage clothing and handmade accessories through her business Kut the Knit, since 2018. Swifties may have seen her knit Kansas City Chiefs beanie on Swift's head at Gillette Stadium on December 17.

Cacho included the crocheted hat in an order she was packaging for Swift from Kansas City's Westside Storey, where Cacho works as a social-media manager. Cacho was checking social media the day of the Chiefs-Patriots game when she spotted a video of Swift getting out of the car donning what looked like her beanie.

"I posted on my Instagram out of excitement and was flooded with messages and orders," Cacho told BI in an email. "My phone was buzzing nonstop to the point where it would just freeze and stop working."

The Chiefs/13 beanie Taylor Swift wore. Foto: Courtesy of Kut the Knit

The 30 beanies Cacho initially had in stock sold out within a few minutes. She added 20 more, and then those sold out. Ultimately she capped it at 200 orders until she could figure out a system to get all the hats made — or to determine whether she even had the capacity to make them. She sold her first 200 hats for $30 apiece; when she restocked with 100 more hats on Christmas, she priced them at $60.

"That allowed me to pay whoever was helping me a fair wage, which is something that is extremely important to me," she said. "Now I have a team of eight amazing crocheters helping me get these orders out as quickly as possible."

Gaining legitimacy and long-tail business opportunities

Wove Made, a jewelry company founded in 2021, is the brand behind Swift's delicate "TNT" bracelet she wore at a Chiefs game on January 28.

Wove Made began as a custom-engagement-ring company and over the past year and a half has expanded into fine jewelry and diamonds, said Susan Bali, the brand's head of marketing.

Wove has its own collection with the golf star Michelle Wie West, a friend of Travis Kelce, Swift's boyfriend. Bali said he heard about the pieces and requested his own TNT bracelet to give Swift. Bali added that a few weeks later Kelce returned and said he'd love one for himself. Wove made a bigger size and sent it over.

"It was kind of thrown into the ether, and we're like, let's hope they wear it," Bali said.

The TNT bracelets Swift and Kelce wore. Foto: Courtesy of Wove

And they did: Swift wore it in the photo of her hugging Kelce after the Chiefs won the game that sent them to the Super Bowl. "We had a 5,000% increase in site traffic in that week, 2,000% increase in sales right away," Bali said.

Bali said the brand generally didn't hold a lot of inventory and instead usually made things on the spot in an effort to be leaner. Going into the Swift boom, its philosophy was to launch a lower-price-point "Lover"-themed bracelet that costs $550. (The TNT bracelet is $6,360.) Bali said that since the boom, the brand had been communicating a lot with customers and clients.

"Everyone is working on all cylinders," she said, adding, "We send out updates if our shop is a bit backed up because people are making these things by hand."

Bali said the Swift boom had given Wove legitimacy it didn't have before. It's had inquiries about new partnerships and has more celebrity collaborations coming up in the next year.

While sales at Little Lies and Kut the Knit have slowed to more-regular levels, their products are just now reaching the customers who participated in the initial boom: Kut the Knit's final round of beanies from its first 200 orders just shipped out, while Little Lies has been shipping out presale orders. After months of patiently waiting, I am now the proud owner of Swift's green velvet dress.

Cacho said she's already preparing for next year in hopes that the hat business will pick back up again come colder weather and the start of the Chiefs' season. Meanwhile, Robertson is waiting for perhaps another Swift boom: The night Swift wore the Little Lies dress, she ordered a "whole bunch of other stuff," Robertson said. Robertson wonders if Swift might wear those pieces when she arrives in Scotland for the Eras Tour in June.

Many of those pieces are sold out and no longer on the site, but Robertson is hopeful that Swift's wearing something could bolster its new collection, dropping this month.

"We kind of know what our narrative would be and how it went the first time and what worked and what didn't," Robertson said. "So at least we have that up our sleeve now."

Have you bought something Taylor Swift wore or experienced the Swift bump at your business? Contact this reporter at [email protected].

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